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Snapdeal turns into your shopping assistant to survive e-commerce battle

business Updated: Sep 13, 2016 13:23 IST
Sunny Sen

Kunal Bahl Co- Founder and CEO of Snapdeal says the Rs 200 crore campaign “unbox zindagi” is the beginning of a five to 10 years journey in which the e-commerce player will look at becoming your personal shopping assistant.(Hindustan Times)

In order to break away from the herd of e-commerce players who fight on discounts, faster delivery and selection, Snapdeal wants to be your shopping assistant.

“There is lack of differentiation, especially among horizontal players,” said Kunal Bahl, CEO and co-founder of Snapdeal.

His big question was: “What will make the buyer come online and shop frequently?”

Snapdeal, which was relegated to the third spot by its American rival Amazon earlier this year, seeks to use analytics and data to help make buying decisions. At the same time it wants to personalise homepages that suit your taste, based on social media mapping, search results and historic data.

Bahl said that its Rs 200 crore campaign “unbox zindagi” it’s the beginning of a five to 10 years journey.

So, if you are looking for a shirt, Snapdeal will try to sell you a look that you aspire for. Similarly, for smartphones, it will try to understand what you want to do with the phone and suggest options.

There is regional differentiation, too. For example, Ganesh Chaturthi is an important festival in Maharashtra, and Durga Puja is huge in Bengal. Snapdeal will show products that suit the festivals of that state.

If anyone down south, searches for cookers, the buyer might be looking for a rice cooker, so Snapdeal’s top results will be of rice cookers. In the north, the same search will show pressure cookers.

“All this can be done using data, to provide better and relevant experience to consumers that will drive stickiness, without being intrusive,” said Bahl.

Snapdeal also wants to be part of life’ special moments – birth of a child, wedding, buying a new car, moving into a new house. If it can capture these moments, Bahl can push products that will compliment these events. “Analytics will be very helpful for targeting and personalization,” he said.

For years, Bahl said, e-commerce has been transactional. It was limited to a large number of products at low prices. But as the next 100 million buyers come online, of which Snapdeal wants a lion’s share, knowing the customer, helps. “Its critical for the platform to know what you are looking for… Its about aspirations of that individual buyer, and not aspirations at large,” says Bahl.

“Kunal (Bahl) has shown very progressive mindset by proposing the use of predictive and assistive commerce, but there are challenges,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO and chief analyst of Greyhound Research.

Gogia, however, points out that Snapdeal will have to manage the cultural change, keep investing in resources in the journey that might take five to seven years, make consumers comfortable to share personal information and data, ensure consumers of data safety, and architect algorithms that are bias-free to consumers whose aspirations and expectations may differ from those who create them.